It’s day two at Aintree with the Mildmay Novices’ Chase set to be an absolute cracker, and as ever Nick Luck has given us the lowdown.
Read on for his thoughts on Friday’s seven races.
COBBLER’S DREAM can go one better than at Cheltenham at 6/1 and take a super competitive opener at Aintree on Ladies’ Day (1.45pm). He travelled so sweetly in the Martin Pipe, he looked a certainty to win approaching the last flight of hurdles, but he just found the hill beyond him. The speed he showed both there and at Kempton suggests another rise in the weights might not stop him, and this race should suit well. POLITESSE, back over hurdles, will also take a little of my support at 14/1 – various readings of her useful back form make her look really well treated for good connections.
FIRST STREET might be a smidgeon of value at 5/1 to upset his smart stablemate Jonbon in the Top Novices’ (2.20pm). He’s a hardy customer now, as evidenced by his excellent run in the County, where he was running into a potential champion. Jonbon clearly ran a great race in the Supreme, but you would have to worry about how hard he had to run that day and the effect it may have left.
AHOY SENOR is surely the play at 5/1 in the serious business that is the Mildmay Novices’ Chase (2.55pm). He was a brilliant winner of the Sefton last year and, although he has been beaten fair and square by his two rivals this season, you feel that he could easily gain revenge if his jumping and galloping all clicks into place as one. This track may enable that, and I like the small field for him. He also poses Bravemansgame and L’Homme Presse (both natural forward going types) a bit of a dilemma – if he really finds a rhythm round here, he could render them indecisive whether to take him on or take back.
HITMAN might be the each way solution at 14/1 to the Melling Chase puzzle (3.30pm). He’s become a bit of a forgotten horse without doing a lot wrong, but is still entitled to a fair bit of improvement. I’ve no doubt this is the sort of track he wants (flat, left handed) and I like the idea him at this trip off a strong pace – guaranteed here with Allmankind, Paint the Dream and Editeur du Gite in the race. If Bryony Frost lets him creep away behind the leaders, she could find herself cruising into this quite stylishly.
BATCIO looks quite an interesting runner at 18/1 in a tricky Topham (4.05pm) and is worth backing each-way with several places. For starters, I think he’s pretty tidily handicapped – he can knock heads with Graded horses over two miles and a bit and not look out of place, while always staying on as though this sort of trip will suit. He’s a sound jumper, will have no bother laying up and might just have a bit up his sleeve. I like the booking of Adam Wedge, too.
CRYSTAL GLORY is the one I quite like at 15/2 in the Sefton (4.40pm). He ran with great credit behind Hillcrest at Haydock, form which I still believe to be very good despite the winner’s blowout at Cheltenham. His trainer has a fine record at this fixture, and the bar here is not outrageously high for a Grade One. There are a few dubious stayers on show here – he is not one of them.
MANDARIN MONARCH gets the nod at 14/1 in the finale (5.15). There’s not too much science here, but I’ve watched the replay of his win at Navan a few times now and can’t really believe how easily he won. My hunch is that he is rather better than this mark and – if there’s a horse in here that could win easily – it’s him.